In a world where the answer to every unanswerable question is “Google it,” it is easy to see why marketing people really want to be friends with the almighty search engine.
In other terms, Google is the stereotypical popular girl in every high school or frat movie, and companies are the minions hanging on to her every word. If Google says SEO matters, then Company A is going to use SEO as much as possible hoping against hope that Google looks over and finally notices them.
The Story Says: Lose All Your Followers Trying For A Quick Success, Or Gain Steady & Sure Results
And for a while, Google just might. However, if you ever watch all the way to the end of one of those movies, you know there are only two possible endings. The first is that the popular girl turns out to be the bad guy and nobody should have been trying to impress her in the first place. The second is that the popular girl turns out to be a regular girl who doesn’t just want a lot of yes men. She wants a real friend who truly cares about her.
In today’s writing market, we are at the part of the movie where we see Google is really looking for quality friendships (i.e., good writing), not just someone spewing out whatever it is they think Google wants to hear (i.e., bad marketing).
(See, Google, I made you the protagonist, not the villain—your turn to rank me higher.)
Why Getting Ranked Is NOT the Same as Making a Sale
When you want to get ranked highly for a term such as dentists in Detroit, you don’t want to sound like you are trying to get ranked for the term dentists in Detroit. Because if you oversell the fact that you are advertising dentists in Detroit, people might find you when they search dentists in Detroit, but they will think you are the dumbest of all the dentists in Detroit – and who wants a dumb dentist, in Detroit or elsewhere?
When you care more about getting in your keywords and less about writing quality copy people care about, you get writing as seen in the above paragraph, which was probably as annoying to read as it was to write. Nobody is going to trust you or use you if that is how you sound. Good writing trumps bad marketing.
There is an old sales trick that even people who have never worked a day in sales might know: when you are trying to sell someone something, repeat their name a lot so that you remember it because no one wants to buy something from someone who can’t be bothered to learn who they are.
Really good salespeople can weave a name in and out of conversation, and you don’t even realize what is happening. You think, ‘Wow! This guy/gal is great. They get me.’ And before you know it, you’ve got way more wrapping paper or Girl Scout cookies (or whatever else they happen to be pedaling) than you could ever need or want.
Then you’ve got those salespeople who learned this lesson on the first day of class and ran with it. That’s when you get conversations like this:
“Hi, Ethel. It’s nice to meet you, Ethel. How are you doing today, Ethel?”
“Oh. Um. I’m, great. Thanks. And you?”
“That’s great, Ethel. I’m great, too, Ethel. We should get lunch and talk business, Ethel.”
It’s these salespeople that, while certainly never forgotten, make you more likely to believe they are a serial killer or otherwise mentally deranged than make you want to buy their product.
Writing content for content’s sake is analogous to being the crazy, serial killer-type salesperson. Yes, you might get noticed, but who really cares if you scare away all your potential victims, err, I mean clients?
Getting noticed is not the same thing as making a sale. If you really want to sell your content, you have to be like that salesperson who knows how to artfully weave in a customer’s name – or keyword as the case may be – into a conversation in a natural and pleasing manner. You have to take the time to get to know the person (or people) you are selling to and talk to them as if they are actually human beings, because they are, instead of just shouting out a lot of marketing tactics you’ve heard might somehow work and hoping someone hears them. In other words, you have to connect with your audience or you’ll end up sounding like a lunatic.
The Quandary of Quantity Vs. Quality Content
If you have ever looked at an advertisement for a writing position, you tend to notice that terms such as ‘SEO experience’ and ‘quick turnaround’ often find themselves placed higher than the less important qualifications such as ‘good writing.’
Companies that are looking for anybody who happens to have a working computer and is willing to write for practically nothing are relying on the infinite monkey theorem. You’ve probably heard of it. Apparently, if you give a monkey a typewriter and let him hit keys at random for long enough, he’ll eventually type a Shakespearean piece. However, instead of hiring a hundred monkeys and hoping they’ll eventually get you something great, there is a better solution. Just hire Shakespeare (well, a good writer. I don’t think you’ll be able to get a hold of Shakespeare.)
Putting the time and effort into getting a real writer capable of great writing in lesser quantities, is going to pay off a lot more than hiring a bunch of sub-par, pseudo-writers who only offer a lot of content fast. After all, we are still reading Shakespeare today, but I’ve yet to hear of a real monkey who has successfully proven the infinite monkey theorem.
Three Steps to Avoid Creating a Blogs ‘R Us
What you have hopefully gotten from everything I have said is that you cannot purchase a chain-store, one size fits all blog for your company and hope to make it successful. If you want to be a real friend to the popular girl, succeed in salesperson tactics, and stop relying on monkey theorems, then there are a few steps you need to take.
- Write for a reader, not for an algorithm. If you write content that you think your customers will really be interested in hearing, guess what? They probably will. Plus, it is likely you’re hitting a bunch of keywords without even trying. If you write for Google, you risk alienating both the search engine giant and your potential audience. So connect with your audience, and show Google you are a true-blue friend – not just a yes man.
- Incorporate Google-ranking tips into real writing; don’t create writing to use the tips. When you write something just because you think the words you use will get you high up in a search, people are going to read what you say and be seriously turned off. Don’t ignore SEO, keywords, and other online marketing considerations, but use them in a way that makes you sound like a knowledgeable salesperson, and not a scary maniac.
- Use a few skilled writers who will post great content, instead of hiring anybody who’s willing to type for cheap. A bunch of short, not thought-out posts will not get you anywhere. It might be cheap, but it’s still a waste of money. Hiring someone that knows what they are doing might be more expensive now, but it will be more profitable in the long-term.
Consider hiring a professional writing company. They’ll work with you to create the content you need, and they’ll do it with the help of a few good writers, not a room full of typing monkeys.
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